Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Sticks and stones

Abortion | Is aggression against pro-lifers on the rise?
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 11/12/18, 05:51 pm

Pro-life activists worry that two recent assaults on peaceful demonstrators, combined with ongoing vandalism of pro-life displays, indicate a growing trend of pro-abortion violence.

Authorities charged Gabriela Skwarko, a 23-year old student at Ryerson University in Toronto, with assault after she attacked pro-life demonstrators at a rally in Toronto on Oct. 1.

A video (WARNING: Video contains obscenity and violence) shows Skwarko, a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective, shoving, dragging, and body-slamming pro-life demonstrators and throwing a metal hand truck at one. Katie Somers, a member of the Toronto Against Abortion group, had to take time off work due to injuries to her wrist and leg. Skwarko later turned herself in to Toronto police and will appear in court next month.

It’s one of the few times anyone has faced charges for assaulting a pro-life demonstrator, but it’s not the first time pro-lifers have dealt with violent opposition from pro-abortion advocates.

“I think it’s actually going to get worse before it gets better,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told me. “We saw when the women were clawing at the … doors [of the Supreme Court] when Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed … because they know exactly what it is they’re fighting for, and they’re not going to go quietly.”

The day before Skwarko’s attack, Jordan Hunt roundhouse kicked pro-life demonstrator Marie-Claire Bissonnette during another rally in Toronto. She caught the incident on camera. Authorities later arrested Hunt and charged him with multiple counts of assault and mischief.

On U.S. college campuses, the pushback from pro-abortion advocates has been less violent but still focused on silencing pro-lifers.

“We see this on campuses all the time, where pro-life students are being told they simply don’t have the right to speak out and they don’t have the right to form clubs or to host events on campuses just because they’re pro-life,” Hawkins said.

Her group has launched a website mapping vandalism of pro-life displays or chalk messages, as well as thefts of flyers, calling the destructive actions an epidemic on college campuses across the country.

Previously, Hawkins said, pro-abortion advocates on campus would just ignore pro-life events. Now “the theme of all this is ‘Stop the message.’ Stop the message from taking place. We don’t want to have this discussion here,” she said.

Violence against pro-lifers has happened in the United States, too.

In 2014, University of California, Santa Barbara, professor Mireille Miller-Young allegedly stole (WARNING: Video contains obscenity and violence) pro-life advocate Thrin Short’s sign and later repeatedly shoved and scratched her when Short asked for the sign back. Miller-Young later faced charges of theft, battery, and vandalism.

In May, a Planned Parenthood escort in Montgomery, Ala., broke an umbrella over pro-life demonstrator Daniel French’s head. The escort, Travis Jackson, assaulted French after also threatening his wife, Valarie. Abortion center workers incredibly pressed charges against the couple for destruction of property over the broken umbrella. A judge cleared the Frenches of any wrongdoing in September.

Last month, a patient escort working at a Planned Parenthood in Naples, Fla., was accused of repeatedly punching pro-life demonstrator Joe Alger. Emergency responders took the 65-year-old Alger to the hospital for injuries, but he did not press charges.

Pro-life demonstrators aren’t always peaceful, either. Last week, Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, interim CEO of the National Abortion Federation, expressed fear over the release of Rachelle Shannon from prison this month. Shannon shot and wounded abortionist George Tiller in 1993. Another activist later shot and killed him.

Leading pro-life groups condemned that violence, said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee: “The pro-life movement does not advocate violence, even against those who would kill unborn children.”

Becket Becket Little Sisters of the Poor and their supporters outside the Supreme Court in March 2016

Finally protected

The Trump administration issued new rules Wednesday to finalize a temporary 2017 exemption from the Obamacare mandate that required religious groups to provide birth control and abortifacient drugs as part of health insurance plans.

The new rules “expand exemptions to protect religious beliefs for certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” according to an advance copy of the Federal Register, in which the regulation will be published.

The Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor fought the mandate in courts for years until the Trump administration moved to provide religious nonprofit groups with a satisfactory exemption to the rule.

“This long unnecessary culture war is now almost over—all that is left is for state governments to admit that there are many ways to deliver these services without nuns, and the Little Sisters can return to serving the elderly poor in peace,” said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket, the legal group that represented Little Sisters. —S.G.


In an unprecedented move, the Dutch Board of Procurators General announced Friday it will prosecute a doctor for violating an ethical code of conduct when he euthanized a woman without her direct consent.

A medical complaints board reprimanded the doctor in July after he forced an elderly woman to drink a cup of coffee containing life-ending drugs. The woman had said she wanted to die but resisted drinking the cup of coffee.

It’s the first such case since 2002, when the Netherlands legalized euthanasia. Doctors have run roughshod over patient consent for years, and even euthanasia advocates have started to dissent from the abuse. In January, Dutch euthanasia regulator Berna van Baarsen resigned over the euthanization of mental health patients with unreliable mental capacities. Belgian euthanasia advocate Ludo Vanopdenbosch resigned in February from his position on the country’s euthanasia commission, citing instances of doctors’ euthanizing people who never asked to die. —S.G.


The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit on Thursday against a Kansas law that forbids doctors from remotely prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. The Kansas Telemedicine Act is supposed to take effect Jan. 1.

Julie Burkhart, CEO of Trust Women Wichita, which had already started offering remote abortions, argued that abortion pills are “safe whether provided in-person or by telemedicine.” But Burkhart ignores the hundreds of women who experience serious complications every year, leading to hospitalization and blood transfusions, necessitating closer supervision. —S.G.

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Samantha Gobba

Samantha is a freelancer for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, and she holds a bechelor degree in English from Hillsdale College and a multiple subject teaching credential from California State University. Samantha resides in Chico, Calif., with her husband and their two sons.

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  • RC
    Posted: Tue, 11/13/2018 09:03 am

    Prosecuted - I edited this paragraph changing just one word, so it is easier to see reality.     “It’s the first such case since 2002, when the Netherlands legalized murder. Doctors have run roughshod over patient consent for years, and even murder advocates have started to dissent from the abuse. In January, Dutch murder regulator Berna van Baarsen resigned over the murder of mental health patients with unreliable mental capacities. Belgian murder advocate Ludo Vanopdenbosch resigned in February from his position on the country’s murder commission, citing instances of doctors’ murdering people who never asked to die.”

  • Narissara
    Posted: Tue, 11/13/2018 12:18 pm

    A pro-abortionist broke an umbrella over a pro-lifer’s head?  Hmm . . . Sounds a bit reminiscent of Preston Brooks caning senator and abolitionist Charles Sumner.  

  • Laneygirl's picture
    Posted: Tue, 11/13/2018 03:23 pm

    American leaders, including a former (and future?) presidential candidate, urge resistance against all that is right.  Canadian P.M. Justin Trudeau called a pro-life flyer "hate-filled" because it depicted the baby that is being killed in the womb. Why in the world would we be surprised by their followers taking opposing action in violent ways?

  • JerryM
    Posted: Thu, 11/15/2018 04:26 pm

    And don't be surprised if Justin Trudeau steps in to defend the assaulting student.

  • Buddy's picture
    Posted: Sat, 11/17/2018 12:04 pm

    With over 80% of US abortions on unwed women their desire to fornicate is a powerful, porn like motivation that overpowers their normal mother, child loving relationship.

  •  jrmbasso's picture
    Posted: Sun, 11/18/2018 09:48 am

    The Democrat party has won a majority of seats in the US House of Representatives in the 11/6/2018 election. One of it’s  announced objectives is to fix national healthcare insurance. I expect one of the sought for ‘fixes’ will be to require once again that abortion be covered in all policies  Given the recent ‘forcefilled’ opposition of the Democrats to the confirmation of now Associate Justice Kavanaugh, I expect similar tactics to be used by the Democrats as they try once again to require abortion coverage as a part all policies. 

  •  jrmbasso's picture
    Posted: Sun, 11/18/2018 09:58 am